Saturday, February 12, 2011

How is my Spanish coming?

Well, I'm glad you asked.
Yesterday, I was complaining that I could not think of words in Spanish because my 'onion' wasn't working right. The Spanish words for 'onion' and 'brain' both start with "CE." The similarities end abruptly there. I suppose it's a personal victory that I understood every word when my host sister laughingly told everyone at lunch today about my latest linguistic slip up.
I am holding my own at about 75% of the conversations around the lunch table. I even talk a bit. This is a great change from Weeks 1 & 2 when I just swung my head around the conversation like I was trying to follow a ping pong match.
It's a blessing that I am learning Spanish amongst people that love food, because this is a topic I can relate on. My host brother and I spend evenings cruising the streets for foods made from ridiculous parts of the cow and then slathered in spicy sauces. Meanwhile, he helps me practice directions between street stalls  in Spanish and I quiz him on Instrument Flight Rules, as he is studying to be a commercial pilot. (Aviation is a topic about which I can discourse almost as fluently as about food.)
My host mom helps me with vocab by explaining what is in everything she cooks and telling me which town in Bolivia each particular dish originated in. She's quite the gastronomic historian.
This learning style requires a certain amount of faith. I think one of the reasons these people who love food are so patient with me is that they actually respect the fact that I will eat almost anything I am told. Reheated intestines off a dirty griddle on a street corner? I'll try it, but bring on the peanut sauce. Crumble up cheese and stir it into my hot chocolate? Well, I like cheese, and I like chocolate... 
These 'feeders' have proved themselves trustworthy in the food and language departments. So an extra lesson has been learned: A person can get a decent language education for the price of a pack of Pepto Bismal and few extra pounds.

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